Moo-t point? Beef exporter bags Modi government's top award
It is quite a paradox that the Narendra Modi-government is banning the sale of cattle for slaughter on one hand, and encouraging export of bovine meat on the other.
The Union Commerce Ministry has just given out 82 awards to top Indian exporters of agricultural and processed food. The 'Diamond Trophy' for last two successive years has gone to an Indian exporter of buffalo meat, Allanasons Private Limited.
The Mumbai-based Allana group has been exporting processed food products and agricultural commodities for over 150 years and among its biggest export items is frozen halal boneless buffalo meat.
In fact, the company claims to be the world's largest player in this segment.
The Allana family also owns the UAE-based IFFCO group and is among the richest Indian businesses in the Gulf countries, reportedly worth $3.3 billion in 2016.
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), an arm of the commerce ministry that promotes the export of agricultural commodities and processed food products, gave the award to Allanasons for 2014-15 and 2015-16, “for their outstanding export performance”.
Allana wasn't alone as another buffalo-meat exporter figured among the awardees.
Al-Hamd Agro Food Products Private Limited won the “Golden Trophy” for exporting buffalo meat.
Al-Hamd is an Aligarh-based company exporting 'halal fresh and frozen buffalo boneless meat and meat products'.
The awards do make sense given India's status as the world's largest beef exporting country, the beef here standing for buffalo meat.
India exported a total of nearly 12 lakh tonnes of buffalo meat last year, worth a whopping Rs 23, 646 crores.
The top markets for Indian buffalo meat include Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others.
The million dollar question at this point of time is, of course, whether such firms will continue to do roaring business in the prevailing climate of fear over all things bovine.
It has already been reported that the crackdown on slaughterhouses, both official as well as a vigilante, in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP came to power led to a drop in buffalo-meat exports.
With the union government’s controversial notification, APEDA's Chairman DK Singh admitted last month that new rules may hit buffalo meat exports.
The government must answer whether it is willing to let go of foreign exchange worth over Rs 20,000 crores. As it is, the GDP growth rate has already slowed, even by the government's own new data series.
No beef please, we are Indians
Apart from the monetary loss, this doesn't even touch upon the socio-political aspects of this sinister beef-politics that is playing across the country. Several state governments have protested the notification, slamming it as an encroachment upon rights of the states and also an attempt to restrict the food choices of people across the country.
The union government's enthusiasm on beef is encouraging thugs across the country who have been running phoney organisations in the name of cow protection.
Across Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, these self-styled cow protectors take the liberty to raid individuals and vehicles transporting cattle.
So brazen and fearless have these groups become that blinded by their misplaced zeal, they are attacking even government officials and shockingly, harming cattle too.
One such group attacked officials of the Tamil Nadu government who were ferrying cattle from Rajasthan for a breeding programme run by the Union government. They also tried to torch a truck and had they succeeded, several cows would have been burnt alive. The irony couldn't have been starker.